There has never been a greater need or time for women to start businesses. We need their abilities, experiences and skills more than ever in the very competitive world of commerce.
Today, I honor and pay tribute to bright women of all ages who undertake a significant risk to launch a flourishing enterprise.
It has been my great privilege to be associated with many talented female business founders, and they deserve my praise and encouragement. All are remarkable women.
As an angel investor and venture capitalist, I engage with a growing number of strong woman leaders. What I admire most about these tremendous executives is their empathy for employees, vendors and customers. They seem to have a profound ability to understand and feel what’s in the hearts and minds of people. As such, they tend to be superb communicators and advisers.
In addition, I value their integrity, industry, insight, kind hearts, conviction and superb people skills.
They are deep thinkers. They are visionary. They conceive brilliant strategies and can execute them adroitly.
In many ways, they surpass and outhustle their male peers. They intuitively manage resources, processes and priorities extremely well.
Most importantly, they understand the marketplace and customers. Perhaps it’s an inherent ability or a learned skill. Whatever the case, women are cognizant of nearly any business issue, including the needs, feelings, aspirations and desires of consumers.
I asked a few high achievers to share with me the lessons they have learned as leaders of thriving businesses.
Amy Rees Anderson is the award-winning CEO of MediConnect Global, a leader in medical record retrieval and management and one of the largest health information exchanges in the country. Here is her advice:
“Always do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be. At the end of the day, there is nothing more valuable than your integrity, both in life and in business. Success will come and go, but integrity is forever. If you always do the right thing, it won’t matter what the outcome is because you will be successful as a human being in the areas that matter most. That is true success.
“Great leaders believe in their people. They help each person see the potential that exists inside of them, and they believe in their people’s ability to achieve amazing things. I have been truly blessed with many great leaders throughout my career. They inspired me to accomplish all I was capable of, even when I didn’t feel that confidence on my own.
“I believe in the power of a ‘goal poster.’ I have had mine from the time I started my first company at the age of 23. When you limit the goals you make visual, you are limiting the possibilities that can come into your life. We should never limit the picture we have in our heads because God intends us to be a masterpiece!”
Cheryl Snapp Conner is the founder of Snapp Conner PR, a highly successful public relations company. Her comments:
“It’s critical to have a strategic perspective, always. I’ve seen research (from Zenger Folkman) that points out that every topline leader — 100 percent — is exceptionally strong in this trait, whether woman or man. Yet, there are many tremendous women executives who never attain the top role because they lack this trait.
“The mark of a great leader is that they instill and bring out the best in the team they lead. In times of high pressure, that’s an easy thing to forget, as leaders revert to the mode of ‘the CEO will just charge in and fix it.’ That’s a mode of operation that shortchanges both your and your team.
“The ability to be quiet and listen is a marvelous attribute. Perhaps the most powerful lesson I’ve learned is when not to talk, just listen. Especially when situations get heated, it’s valuable to remember it’s the person who’s not speaking who’s generally holding 90 percent of the cards.
“Never make a key decision in the heat of emotion. The ability to wait, think and consider options before responding allows you to consider what it is you want to happen, and whether what you’re about to do is the best way to arrive at that goal. In that light, chewing somebody out or reacting in anger will almost never make a situation better and will generally make the outcome much worse.”
I thank these women for sharing their lessons. Our business world includes many more like them, and it needs many more.
Who are the women entrepreneurs you admire, and what are the traits they exemplify? I welcome your thoughts.
This article originally appeared in Alan Hall’s Forbes column. Contact him at www.AlanEHall.com or @AskAlanEHall.